Housing First Char-Meck

Ending Chronic Homelessness

Our mission is to mobilize the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community to place the men and women who meet the definition of "chronically homeless" in our community in permanent supportive housing by December 31, 2018.

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1.       I know someone who needs help.  What should I do?

If there is someone you know who is living on the street that you believe is chronically homeless and would like for them to be visited by the street outreach team, you can send in a referral here.

If you know someone living on the street or in a shelter who would like to be assessed for potential resources, they can visit one of the coordinated assessment sites at The Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, Salvation Army Center of Hope, or Urban Ministry Center.

If you know someone who is precariously housed, living with friends or family or in a motel, they can connect with affordable housing resources through www.socialserve.com or through the Charlotte Housing Authority at www.cha-nc.org.

2.       Why should we help the chronically homeless population?  What about everyone else who is homeless?

While our community strives to end all homelessness for all people, there are several reasons to focus on ending chronic homelessness:

  • Increased Efficiency: Research shows that while the chronically homeless make-up only about 10% of the overall homeless population, they utilize 50% of the homeless resources.  By ending chronic homelessness, the entire homeless service system experiences increased efficiency.
  • Cost Effectiveness: Research indicates that chronically homeless individuals commonly utilize public systems at crisis points, creating a large bill associated with emergency room visits and frequent arrests.  When housed with appropriate supports, however, these community costs significantly decrease.  A local evaluation by UNCC found that after living in Moore Place one year, 62 tenants generated a $1.8 million savings, decreasing the total community bill associated with ER visits and jail time.
  • Clear Solution: Over the last two decades, an intervention has been developed that effectively ends chronic homelessness.  Permanent Supportive Housing using a Housing First approach, provides low barriers of entry in order to get chronically homelessness individuals housing and robust supports in order to remain housed.
  • Alignment with National Goals: Ending chronic homelessness is not only a local vision.  The federal government has set the goal to end chronic homelessness by the end of 2015 in Opening Doors, the federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.  Along with the plan, HUD has prioritized ending chronic homelessness through funding opportunities. 
  • Achievability: While thousands of individuals in our community experience homelessness in a given year, an estimated 450 experience chronic homelessness[1].  Though 450 is far too high, it represents a 43% decrease since 2010.   This progress has been made through the creation of more than 250 Permanent Supportive Housing units and coordinated efforts to ensure housing resources are targeted towards households with the greatest needs. 

3.       How does this effort connect with other efforts to end homelessness?

Every day, there is a network of homeless service providers striving to end homelessness for the individuals and families who find themselves without housing.  This network of providers is supportive of two current community-wide initiatives:

  1. The “Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg”  effort to end chronic homelessness by 12/31/16
  2. The “Housing Our Heroes” effort to end veteran homelessness by 12/31/15

By successfully ending homelessness for these two sub-groups, we hope to build the momentum to eventually end all homelessness. 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg is joining more than 40 communities across the countries focused on these same two goals of ending chronic homelessness and ending veteran homelessness.

4.       Where will the housing needed to end chronic homelessness be located?

Most of the housing created through this effort will be scattered throughout the community, by using rental vouchers with existing housing units.  The plan does call for one additional single site building.  The location of that building has not been determined.

5.       How can I help?

Visit our Get Involved Tab

6.       What is chronic homelessness and how many people are chronically homeless?

A person is considered chronically homeless if he/she has at least one disabling condition and has experienced a continuous year of homelessness or has had four episodes of homelessness over the last three years.  A family can be considered chronically homeless if the above conditions apply to the head of household. Our best estimate is that there are around 450[2] people experiencing chronic homelessness in our community. 

7.       What is Housing First?

Housing First is a low-barrier approach to housing.  With a Housing First approach, people are moved directly from the streets and shelters into housing, with minimal eligibility criteria.  The Housing First approach differs from the traditional housing approach, which often requires stability and sobriety before moving into permanent housing.  The Housing First approach recognizes that housing is often necessary in order to achieve stability.  Learn more here.

8.       Is it really possible to “end” chronic homelessness?

We absolutely believe it is possible to end chronic homelessness.  We know the solution.  Throughout the country, as communities have invested in permanent supportive housing, chronic homelessness has decreased.  Our community is aiming for a “functional zero,” meaning that the number of chronic homeless people at any time will be less than the average rate of housing placements in any given month. 

9.       If we end chronic homelessness, won’t more people who are homeless want to move to Charlotte?

This is a common concern in cities across the country, but the data does not back up this concern.  Our supportive housing providers report that their tenants typically have a history of living in our community before they became homeless.  Given the disabling conditions that accompany chronic homeless, this population is not a particularly transient population. 

 10.   What should I say when someone asks me for help on the street? How can I help him / her?

Many times people ask directly for money.  It is our experience that giving money often subsidizes substance abuse and encourages professional panhandling. Instead of money, consider offering conversation. Some people might be happy to talk, others less so.  Here are some suggestions for conversation:

 1.    Good morning

2.    Did you catch the game?

3.    How are you doing?

4.    I will keep you in my thoughts

5.    I don’t have money, but is there another way I can help you?

 You can also encourage the person to visit one of the coordinated assessment sites at The Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, Salvation Army Center of Hope, or Urban Ministry Center.  Coordinated Assessment is a standardized process to assess and refer people experiencing homelessness to resources. 

If you believe someone is living on the street and could benefit from the street outreach team, you can send in a referral here.

[1] Estimate provided by Urban Ministry Center using a combination of the annual Point in Time Count and data from the Vulnerability Index, conducted in 2010.

[2] Estimate provided by Urban Ministry Center using a combination of the annual Point in Time Count and data from the Vulnerability Index, conducted in 2010.

Copyright 2015 Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg